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tv   MSNBC News Live  MSNBC  January 20, 2010 2:00pm-3:00pm EST

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>> we've heard from david axelrod twice, once on the daily rundown and once lars hour with andrea. the message is this, we know you're angry, mr. and mrs. voter, we know you're upset, a lot of anxiety, we feel it as well. they are trying to emphasize some of the popular or populist teams, caps on lifetime coverage, caps on covering people with pre-existing conditions, things of that nature. i have to tell you, here at the white house and on capitol hill, democrats are still trying to determine exactly what they are going to do. here at the white house they don't want to talk about the mechanics, they would rather talk about the issues and the atmosphere surrounding the election, why they lost in deep blue state, which auto lead to political and policy catastrophe in terms of senate especially this health care bill they have been working on for the past year. in congress and the house of representatives, leadership has
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been meeting since last night. they had a meeting after the election results were known. they have been meeting again today trying to determine a way forward. i don't think they have really determined what they are goinged to yet other than some talk of taking things piecemeal. i think the reflex in a situation like this in a time of political peril is to go back to the base and try to appeal to the base. as you know, the base has been very upset lately what they consider to be the president's proclivity to compromise with democrats and conservatives. will that fire up the base. doesn't speak well for the bill or partisanship as we begin this election year. >> meantime joining us with reaction to this news senator judd gregg republican from new hampshire. good afternoon, senator. >> hi, alex. >> hello, sir. i hope you are as well. i wonder what the brown mood says about the mood in america,
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anti-democrat or angry status quo and we want some sort of an outsider, which is really the platform on which scott brown ran? >> i think what it says is people are really word worried, upset. health care is part of that, explosion on the size of the government being proposed, people seeing their benefits at risk under medicare. they see their insurance maybe being lost and forced into some other type of insurance. but you add that to the cap and trade proposals and the stimulus package, to the cash for clunkers program, these are all hugely expensive programs. what they add up to is massive debt for our country. what people are looking at and applying common sense here, they are looking at this debt and saying how are they going to pay all this. what are we going to pass onto our kids? most people are concerned we're going to end up passing onto our kids a nation less prosperous and where our kids have less opportunity than we got from our
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parents. that's never happened in american history and it's not fair to do. there's real concern about the size of the government and the fact the proposals coming out of this administration and this congress exploded the size of the government. >> what about, senator, something upon which everybody can universally agree being pushed through in health insurance and health care reform. if it's not the ginormous package, what about smaller piecemeal packages, not being denied health care on pre-existing conditions and having companies put a cap on that which they can charge people. they can't go after and say we offered it to them because it cost him his house. what about getting things like that through? >> these what we've been suggesting. that's exactly the republican plan, tep by step. i've got my own proposal, substantive, step by step, some bipartisan proposals in the area. let me throw out a couple of others. two ideas you put out are good ideas. why don't we do abusive lawsuit
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reform. say to employers you can pay your employees extra money if they live healthier lifestyles, get the tests they are supposed to get, stop smoking. why don't we reward doctors and hospitals and health care providers for quality and value rather than quantity and overutilization. all these things could be done on a step by step basis without this massive $2.5 million increase which is at the core of the bill we got, that which was passed through on a purely partisan vote. senator, looking ahead here with regard to how scott brown is going to vote. at the news conference he repeatedly called himself an independent, history of working with democrats. any worries he might not be with lock step with the republican leadership in the senate? >> we're a big party. we've got a lot of different viewpoints in the senate in the republican party, a big umbrella. i'm sure he's going to be very comfortable in this party and he's going to have his views. that's the excitement about serving in this institution. you can be yourself, take your
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stands, but you do affiliate with a party that basically identifies your philosophy. when you listen to what he said in the campaign, those were basically conservative philosophies of reducing the size of government, reducing spending, giving individuals opportunities to succeed, protecting individual liberties and protecting the environment which in new england is a very big issue on the republican side. these are issues which i think he's going to find himself in a very much of a comfort zone with colleagues in the senate on the republican side of the aisle. that's why he's associating with the republican party and is a republican. >> we thank you for sharing your views senator judd gregg from new hampshire. thank you. the house just passed a bill allowing taxpayers to write off donations for the haiti relief efforts when they file their 2009 taxes. under current law donors would have to wait to file 2010 next year to take those donations as tax exemptions. this bill would allow donations made by the end of february to still be deducted from the 2009 calendar year returns mpl the
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senate is expected to vote on this measure very soon. just in, some new information about how many u.s. troops headed to haiti. a senior defense official says just over half of the second brigade of the 82nd airborne is on the ground in haiti. by saturday night the pentagon says there will ab total of 6,300 members of armed forces either at sea or on the ground in that country. the pentagon also says the navy hospital ship, uss comfort is treating the first patients. a very strong after shock hit. the epicenter was 35 miles northwest of port-au-prince. mike taibbi just arrived in port-au-prince today. mike joins us now. okay, mike. i know you're watching all the coverage from the out set but now that you've got a look at things with your eyes, tell me how you assess it. >> on the eighth day, there are a couple of things to note about the situation in port-au-prince and just in the surrounding area. first of all, there are hundreds of people still streaming out of
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the city in any conveyance they can get, truck, a car, with all their worldly possessions, get out of dodge, out of town, heading to the country side, heading east toward the dominican republic border. there's also a return, albeit a slow and fitful return to real commerce in parts of the city, even in front of the collapsed buildings we saw, there were store front opening up, people selling goods, people buying goods. we also saw water trucks dispensing water, something that had been complained about by a lot of people in desperate needs of supplies. we didn't see security. all those troops will be a big help and welcomed on the streets. a lot of tent cities. there's signs posted on the road, tent city to the right. english, we need food, water, help. any help that gets this way will be welcomed by hundreds of thousands of people who need it. it's been estimated a million and a half hagues are homeless because of earthquake.
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you mentioned uss comfort anchored in port-au-prince harbor, the ship with 550 medical personnel on board treating the first patients. they were steaming to the harbor when two were airlifted from an aircraft carrier, a boy with a crushed pelvis and a 20-year-old man with a skull fracture and broken spine. both in critical condition. still critical but stable on the uss comfort. a lot going on. a lot of recovery teams, rescue teams beginning to leave the island because the rescue, of course, in this story is turning more to recovery. alex. >> mike, with regard to any isolated incidents of looting or violence or really just exemplary of desperation they feel when things get dropped by u.s. military supplies and there's not enough for everybody in the tent cities you talk about. have you seen any evidence of that? >> we didn't see it. in fact, i was looking for that, because there wasn't a lot of
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military, uniformed presence on the way in. the national police force has been invisible, of course, and no armed service for haitian government. haitian government largely absent at this point. we didn't see any of that tension. in fact, it looked like people were going about what they were meaning to do today. when it was getting out of town or selling what they had to sell or picking up what they needed to pick up, families gathering together. still people digging through the rubble of collapsed buildings. no evidence that would lead to that. it has happened, sporadic reports. we didn't see it. >> mike taibbi, thank you for that update. the man in custody duaccuse of shooting people in virginia may have been related. they arrested spaeth, a co-owner of the home where victims were found. two of the dead are believed to be his wife and son. just a few hours ago police
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shared new details about the possibility of bombs being planted. >> at the time he surrendered, he was wearing a bulletproof vest. he had no weapons in his possession at the time. >> we do have reason to believe there may be incendiary evidence. our bomb technicians as well as canine teams are on scene. authorities added at one point he fired at a state police helicopter rupturing its gas tank and forcing it to land. no one aboard that chopper was hurt. white house secretary robert gibbs getting ready to deliver his daily briefing, sure to be discussed the surprised win of scott brown for ted kennedied senate seat. plus a look at how the election of brown will impact president obama's plan to reform health care. we'll reveal which politician takes the title of most unpopular person ever polled. ouch. to stay in tune with life after 50,
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mentioned insurance reform, cost containment and a couple of other things. does that mean that the approach to the white house is settled on in reaction to the election last night is to scale back the bill? >> well, jennifer, what the president talked to abc about, and to take a step back on health care, doing health care wasn't -- he didn't do it just because it was a hobby. he did it because in traveling
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around the country during the election he heard from families, he heard from small businesses, he heard from large businesses about how the current system because currently unsustainable. it was a priority then and it's a priority now. we are working through the best way forward as the president continues his commitment to get health care reform done. >> you signaled that you guys are settled on a way forward? >> again, i think a lot of those conversations are ongoing. there are, as you mentioned, one path. we talked yesterday about other paths. and -- >> i didn't mention it, the president did. >> i'm saying -- well, right. >> i did mention it but -- [ laughter ] >> you were -- i didn't mean to imply it was your question. it was certainly based on something the president said. there are a number of different
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ways to do this. again, these conversations are ongoing. >> breaking the bill into pieces, that is ruled out or still on the table? >> again, i don't want to get into, i guess, delineating except to say there are a lot of different paths forward. i think we'll get an opportunity in the coming hours and days to know exactly what that path is. i think we mentioned yesterday, you know, health care continues to be a priority of the president's. it was yesterday, it was a year ago and it continues today. >> one quick thing, follow-up. since obviously abandoning health care is not one of the ongss, what are the immediate plans for recalibrating the message or intensifying the message to explain better to the american people what you're trying to do? >> first and foremost -- again, this was something we touched on yesterday, the president talks about that in his interview and i think you heard some of us
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talk about this this morning. the anger and frustration in this country about where we are economically is something that we heard and saw last night in massachusetts. the president heard and saw it last month when he traveled to pennsylvania. he'll hear it in ohio. we've heard it for several years. the president, i think, in his interview takes it back even farther than that. >> the health care bill, explaining the health care bill, why it's important, why he wants to do it. >> i just want to -- a more full answer, i will say that. i'll say this, jennifer, i don't think, and i think it would be inaccurate, to just boil the results of yesterday down to one issue. right? >> it is an issue. >> i agree. but it is certainly an issue.
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but i think both the candidate has won last night has said, it wasn't just one issue. the anger and the frustration the american people have at the fact that a lot of work has been done and they don't necessarily feel like their economic lives have progressed in the past year is understandable. as i said yesterday, that's what brought candidate barack obama a year ago today to be inaugurated as president obama. we will continue to have him focus on the economy and jobs. continue to focus on dealing with the problems that he felt and talked about during the campaign that existed and have existed for quite sometime that we haven't addressed. inherent in a lot of that again, it's job growth. a foundation for economic growth going forward that's not
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predicated on consumer spending or housing prices. all of those things that the president has worked on, he'll continue to work on moving forward. i think the american people expect that of their president and their congress and that's certainly what they will get. yes, ma'am? >> to what extent do you read into the massachusetts results a message on national politics? is there a wakeup call, like some people have said, for the party? >> well, i think everybody -- i think there are a lot of people that bear responsibility for some aspect of what happened last night. we talked yesterday about i said the president was surprised and frustrated. i don't -- the president didn't expect -- i'd certainly put myself in that category, not
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expecting to lose that senate race. there's no doubt we are frustrated by that. so i think everybody bears some responsibility, certainly including the white house. but again, what i talked about yesterday and what i talk about here today, i think the anger that the president addressed more than a year ago to get elected, the ank thager that we seen throughout this year and very similar to the anger we saw last night, i think we have -- again, we've seen that for far longer than an election. we've seen, as i said yesterday, people that are working longer, working harder, that are more productive and watching their wages fall. they are watching their jobs move overseas. they are watching their families not have the same opportunities
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that they did, and they are feeling insecure about their own future. i think that is a wakeup call for everybody in this town. >> so what does that mean for him as he's preparing for the state of the union? are you having meetings to discuss the themes, are you looking at what you're doing in a different way as a result of this and looking at anything in a different way? >> look, he will undoubtedly address the results and what they mean in the state of the union. the agenda, though, that the president was going to focus on and is going to focus on in the coming year, jobs, fiscal responsibility, many of the things that he's talked about over the last several weeks will be what he focuses on during the
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state of the union and in the coming year. we still have a lot of work to do to get our economy back on track. >> is there added urgency to get a near term jobs bill? >> again, i would simply reiterate what we've talked about before, which is we need to do everything possible to create an environment where the private sector is hiring again. we under the depth of the recession, the more than 7 million jobs that have been lost in a more than two-year period of time, so we've got a lot of work to do. the president laid out some ideas in december and believes those ideas are -- still should be taken up now. and he'll talk about that in the state of the union. >> only about a third of the american people think that the president is doing enough on the economy, two-thirds don't.
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are they wrong? >> i wouldn't question that that's what they told your pollster and they are right. in telling them that, i would say this, having -- coming here to work every day, the president works each and every day on making our economy stronger and putting us in a position to where we're creating jobs, businesses are hiring again. we have that new foundation that is built on something like the clean energy jobs of the future. all that takes up a little bit of part of every day. whether we have to do a better job making sure people understand that, we certainly
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bear that responsibility. but i can certainly assure the american people that that is the chief focus of the president of the united states. >> with the economy just now and yesterday when i asked you about health care reform, it seems like the white house thinks that the issue disconnect that the american people have with the white house, in terms of their disapproval of the president's handling of the economy and health care reform is not that you're doing anything wrong but that you are not communicating effectively. am i understand thanksgiving correctly? >> look, i think we have done -- i'm not saying that's the only thing, by any means. i would certainly, again, take my share of the responsibility as i'm sure many would in ensuring that people had a clear idea of what the president is doing each day on that. you know, look, some of this is not dissimilar to when you go
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back to the last really deep recession, you look at the president's approval ratings for ronald reagan during '81 and '82. there's -- it is not surprising to anybody here and i doubt surprising to anybody in the country that there's anger and frustration with 10% of the american people unemployed. when you add in those that are unemployed but have stopped looking because they have been unemployed for so long, that number only gets greater. so again, i think you hear the president say quite clearly that he's among those that are frustrated. we all want to see us get our economy back on track faster. the president believes that we have taken some necessary, if at times unpopular steps to do so. you don't get credit for taking those steps -- you don't get
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credit for what would have happened, which is fine. but i think the president, at the end of his interview says he's more optimistic about our country and about our economy today than he was a year ago. because again, if you think about where we were a year ago, we were in meetings talking about what if these series of banks go under. what are we going to do if -- you know, these were eye-opening experiences. we were -- we all remember from the first jobs report, we were watching the economy shed jobs at a rate that had previously been unseen. >> just in terms of the politics of this, what does the president plan on doing? you've talked a lot about the anger out there and the frustration, and the president did, too, when he was in boston on sunday. what do you plan on doing to convince these people who are angry? >> right.
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>> that they need to trust the president and trust the democratic party? because obviously many of them are turning away from the democratic party and the president? >> well, look. i think that's in many ways the result of that anger is now pointed at us because we're in charge, rightly so. look, i think the president's focus on jobs in the economy is one i think we will have. clearly financial reform is going to take and play a bigger role in what happens legislatively in the next several months ensuring we have honest rules of the road going forward, we're not rewarding excessive risk. that we have an independent
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agency that protects and looks after consumers. you saw the president discuss last weaken insuring that taxpayers are paid back in full for what was lent to banks to stabilize that financial system. i think both of those will certainly, along with jobs, ab big priority for this president upcoming. you said as part of that, that the president dating back to 2008 in his own campaign heard the economy, why did he spend more time on health care, wall street reform, all the things people worried about. >> again, we started wall street reform and got that through the house, which is no small accomplishment. look, the president, as i said earlier, didn't take on health care reform because it was a hobby. he took on health care reform because when we're talking about wages, people were losing wages
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to health care. people were watching their incomes decline because their premiums were increasing. families were struggling with the loss of health care. so there were economic concerns that brought the president to dealing with health care. so i would not put and i know the president would not put -- i don't want to silo issues because, if you're talking about the economy and jobs, you're talking about health care, you're talking about education. you're talking about a host of things that go to that security that the middle class clearly hasn't felt in many years. >> it's no doubt they were interconnected, six or eight months ago they were raising questions whether he he had too much on his plate and how he emphasizes things.
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he could have last summer done a scaled back bill like he's talking about today. he he was talking about that last summer. >> i think the difference is the president would tell you if there were an easier solution, it would, a, been done. or b, identified as not addressing cost containment, deficit reduction, all the aspects in the different bills that are passed the house and senate. insurance reforms, a host of things that within health care are interconnected and have to be done as a broad package. >> how much as factors as president does the white house put as a loss on martha coakley being a bad candidate, how much on him as referendum on his leadership. >> look, i don't want to get into the blame game. i said earlier, i think we all
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bear some responsibility. i won't do the percentages as tempting as that might be. look, you know, again, we were -- again, there was a surprise and a frustration here. and i think we all have some responsibility on that to bear. >> last thing on that, in terms of whether you call it a reverend up or not, anthony wiener, a democratic in the house is saying partly to blame is presidential leadership, the president did not exert himself, he sat back for months and let this play out on the hill. how do you respond to that? >> again, we certainly talked about this before. i simply just don't agree with the notion that we wouldn't be here were it not for the president wanting us -- even though it was hard, even though people said it couldn't be done, even though it looked undoable at times, i honestly don't
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believe and i don't think many in congress would tell you it would be at this point were it not for his leadership. >> can i follow up on that? >> let me get around. i've scheduled a bunch of time. yes, jim? >> i wanted to follow up on that, on presidential leadership and health care. now that we're at a new stage in health care reform, and i don't know if you'd be willing to say back to the drawing board but it is a new stage, is the president going to exert more leadership now? is he going to take control of what's happening up there or is he going to continue to defer to congress? >> again, i give awe similar answer i did to ed. i don't honestly believe we would be where we are. i don't believe we would be this far along in a process were it not for the president being very intimately involved. >> accepting that, do you think he'll become more involved in a leadership function in terms of saying from how here is what i
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want in this bill? >> i will say this, i think he will continue, as he has, to both with him and key staff here play a very absentive role in that process. >> on the bigger picture. do you believe or -- >> there we're listening to white house secretary robert gibbs talking about the aftermath and the spin, if you will, from the white house and how they plan to move forward. really he doesn't want to look back too too much on the events that happened and transpired to the radical change to the senate, massachusetts losing that senate seat held by ted kennedy for 50 years, talking about all the reasons going forward, being equality based saying everyone at the white house deserves part of the blame in taking and shoulderering responsibility by that. let's be joined by cnbc washington correspondent john harwood listening to the briefing. john, your take away from this.
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very conciliatory tone. he's saying, look, it is what it is and got to move forward. to what extent does the white house need to look at what happened and say big lessons learned. here is what we cannot do anymore? >> look, this is where everyone around this president and the president himself and the democratic leadership in the house and senate are going to earn their money. this is a very tough environment to operate in, 10% unemployment, they inherited difficult problems. those problems have not gone away and they have got to figure out whether or not the environment allows for large legislation to go. i think, you know, we were just listening to chip reed's last question, is the white house going to assert more leadership. they are saying the president's leadership is pretty effective. when is the last time the house of representative or senate passed a piece of health care legislation. the answer is, never. the question is, in this environment can you get a piece of comprehensive legislation
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through and that is what the democratic leadership has to decide. they still have the option to get it through the house. that would be gut check. >> it seems the president himself believes a democratically run agenda for health care reform can't be pushed through, because he himself is saying don't try to jam this bill through, try to coalesce around popular ideas. >> we'll see. if there are new strategy is to fall back, as some democratic strategists had advised in the beginning to something much smaller and more popular, you might be able to get that through. but it would not be what the president campaigned on. what the congress is considering is smaller than what the president campaigned on and then you're going to face a problem with a lot of discontent with the democratic base. that could be the strategy. it's possible it could get through. that's not an easy strategy either. remember, alex, the democrats would still be left, under that
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scenario, with 10% unemployment, a bad economy, people very upset with washington and they have got to decide if that's a solution to their political problems. >> okay. i'm going to be joined right now, john, joined by jeff johnson, award winning journalist, social activist as well as political commentator for bet. jeff is here in the studio with me. good afternoon to you. what a difference a day, a year makes, a day, too, when you look at the difference in massachusetts yesterday to today. the difference with barack obama, could you have foreseen where we are take january 209 of last year. >> absolutely. a lot of people could. they may not have been able to forecast the details. people are saying over and over again, president obama has to temper expectations, about what is going to be achieved with the economy, the front on the war, with health care. so many people were concerned about such a high expectation level after such a high energy
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race. so i think we're seeing those expectations challenged. the real question is, is this really about obama or the broader democratic party. i think obama is doing exactly what he said he was going to do. whether we agree with that is one thing. for the democratic to -- >> you're absolutely right. during inaugural address, he said changes are great and it will take a long time to get through them. he went on the record now. how does he take the popularity he harnesses as an individual, a man, a president. his likability is sky high. how does he translate that into getting democrats to legislate the way he wants them to. >> i don't know if it's sky eye anymore. it might be middle high. >> it's pretty high. >> the question is he's already stating he doesn't want to ram legislation down the legislative pipeline. he hasn't done that up until now. i don't see him doing that now.
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the democrats are going to have to decide how they want to move forward with this. but i think he has to at this point remain consistent with the agenda and strategy he laid out. otherwise, that's when he really begins to get criticized. >> jeff johnson, john harwood, thank you both for that discussion. meantime federal officials are being called to account today for that botched northwest airlines bombing attempt on christmas day. this morning senate homeland security committee heard from president's key national security officials including homeland security chief and secretary napolitano stressing all federal agencies were cooperating to tighten security but stopped short of any issuing of guarantees. >> i wish i could tell you with all of this ongoing war and upcoming actions that there will never be another umar farouk abdulmutallab. i can't do so. what i can tell you is that this administration and the men and women of the dhs are working
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110% every day to minimize the likelihood. >> secretary napolitano also stated that aviation security is an increasingly international responsibility. in fact, the secretary scheduled to testify again right now. this time the senate commerce committee on aviation security, the filed bomb blot, that under way. justice correspondent pete williams joins us. good afternoon, pete. >> alex, how are you? >> fine, hope you are, too. what have we learned about gaps in security identified and new fixes enacted. >> in terms of fixes we've learned a lot more people put on the watch and no-fly list, subject them to additional airport screening or keep them off planes all together. what several of the intelligence officials said the standard, the bar to make it to the list has been lowered. they thought the earlier standard was too tough. they intend to put a lot more people onto those lists.
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however, they pushed back at the congress a little today and said to the congress, you've made it harder for us. you've been beating up on us for the past several months, past several years saying too many people are on these watch lists, too many innocent americans with similar names are caught up. members of congress seem today to suggest that's also something they need to worry about. secondly, alex, there was a very interesting discussion about whether the government made the right decision in the immediate hours after arresting umar abdulmutallab to treat him as someone who could potentially go to trial in a civilian court or classify him as an enemy combatant and have him questioned by intelligence people instead of just the fbi. today the director of national intelligence, admiral dennis blair says he thinks a group put together in the past year, a high-value detainee group should have been used to question him or at least a decision should have been made on whether to do that instead of just treating him as someone who is going to
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go to court. >> okay, pete william, with a wrap from washington. thanks, pete. >> you bet. >> just in this afternoon, some new information about how many u.s. troops headed to haiti. a senior u.s. official says just over half of the second brigade of the 82nd airborne on the ground in haiti. by saturday night the pentagon says there will ab total of 16,300 members of the u.s. armed forces either at sea or on the ground in that country. the pentagon says the navy hospital ship "uss comfort" is treating its first patients. another round of panic in the capital when a strong after shock hit. the epicenter was 35 miles northwest of port-au-prince. some new video coming in, a team of u.s. marines and navy personnel made an amphibious landing] there on the beach in haiti. well, hundreds of southern california residents are evacuated as another storm heads their way. we're going to tell you if any relief is in sight for those flooded communities. tiger woods reportedly seeking
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late night comedy drama isn't over. we're hearing from our boss jeff zucker even as conan o'brien continues to poke fun at the situation. >> i've had a crazy time. today was busy i spent the afternoon at universe studios amusement park enjoying their ride, the tunnel of litigation. >> conan is fighting for a good deal for his staffers who will most likely lose their jobs when conan goes off air. on our sister network cnbc, jeff zucker says the publicity of the feud may be a good thing. >> if people didn't care about nbc and they didn't care about "the tonight show," then there wouldn't be as much interest in this. nbc, "the tonight show," these are cultural touch stones of the
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country. they play a huge role in our lives. i think that's a great thing for nbc. >> jeff zucker there on cnbc. well, normally this time of we're we'd be getting ready to watch tiger woods on golf's pga tour. instead reporters are staked out outside a behavioral clinic in mississippi where tiger woods is reportedly getting treatment tore sex addiction. ron mott live in hattiesburg, mississippi. what are the updates? any proof tiger is there? >> well, there's certainly some pictures out there that purport to show tiger is at this facility, being treated at this facility. the reason we don't think the person of great interest here is not currently in the facility because all day long or morning long there was a very visible police presence here. in fact they transport add couple of advance into the facility, a police officer following closely behind and blocked the driveway while those folks went in the complex behind
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me. that police officer stood guard checking every car that came through until the same convoy left to go to a facility connected behind me. the images out on the web certainly appear to look like tiger woods. there's no real evidence it is him. the "national enquirer" will suggest he's being treated here. the so-called white house party crashers called to testify on capitol hill with photographers snapping away the salahis sat by a white house panel this morning. they were there to explain how they got past the secret service and got to a white house state dinner without an official interrogation. question after question, they both refused to answer. >> let me ask you a question, mr. salahi, did you wear a tuxedo that night? are you going to take the fifth on that. >> on the advice of counsel, i
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assert my rights. >> let me ask you a question, were you there snfr on the -- >> are you here today, mr. salahi? are you here right now? you've got to get an answer from your attorney on that? >> that's almost comical. the couple said they believed they were invited to the dinner. the salahis were auditioning for a reality tv show, the real housewives of d.c. when they attended that dinner paragraph it is a race against mother nature for people in california right now. two days of heavy rain is forcing evacuations in the southern part of the state. officials are going door to door, asking people in the flood prone areas to leave before the next wave of bad weather comes in this afternoon. john is live in an area hit hard by the fires, now, of course, these storms and mudslides. good afternoon to you, john. what's the latest there? >> reporter: hey, alex, it looks like this storm we were expecting later this afternoon has started. this is the hardest rain we've
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seen since everything started monday when that first storm came through. you can see what's coming down the roadway on ocean view boulevard. this is one of the main streets here. a lot of little roads come off of this. off of these little roads are catch basins, debris basins. those basins are full. there's 28 of them, all of them filled to capacity. that's why now we're starting to see things come down. the way it was set up, saw the rail over there. the other one here known as jersey barriers, the city, county place these here. anything down the mountain side, they want it to come this way. smash into this. eventually enough debris that will come up over here and through this fence and through the fence is exactly where they are hoping everything will go, because down there is a stream. plenty of room down there for any debris to get through here. a lot of folks will be evacuated. a mandatory evacuation in place. steve green lives over here. he's got a very dramatic backyard setup with those railroad ties. spent a lot of money to save his
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home but he is getting ready to pack up and head out as well. gena mandatory evacuation for residents, at least 700 homes affected by this. the county is saying they have to take this serious. not only do they think there's going to be debris in the roadways, they do believe we're going to get strong enough storms the mountain side could fall and we could see some homes crushed. we're going to keep an eye on it and let you know what happens. >> we want folks out of the way, nowhere near when that happens. up next, a closer look at what the first lady hopes to accomplish in the next year in the white house. fancy feast created a way to celebrate any moment. fancy feast appetizers. [dinner bell chimes] simple high quality ingredients like wild alaskan salmon, white meat chicken, or sea bass and shrimp in a delicate broth, prepared without by-products or fillers. fancy feast appetizers. celebrate the moment
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the first lady marked this day, the one-year anniversary of president obama's inauguration with a special treat for white house visitors. mrs. obama took some time to greet those visitors who were touring 1600 pennsylvania avenue. the white house says it was meant to reinforce the obama's belief that they live in the people's house. the white house west wing may be
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talking politics and health care, but the east wing is focused on childhood obesity. the top of the hour, in fact, the first lady will talk to the u.s. conference of mayors focusing on american families. it's been a big part of the first lady's agenda, especially military families. jean is assistant editor for politico.com. >> thanks for having me. >> how do you rate her success. >> she's had a terrific year. she built a foundation, relationship with voters and people watching the white house. i think of all the politicians in washington, he's probably the most popular. >> she certainly is high in popularity. she takes on childhood obesity. nothing challenging there. there's universal support for her efforts. what else is she going to be doing? >> well, education is important to her. nutrition and children's issues. all of those things are very important to her. and she has found a way to sort
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of weave that into the portrait of her as a mother. i think that's grounded her positions in a way that's been very effective for the white house. i think you'll see more of that. >> our poll, nbc "wall street journal's" poll about the first lady's approval rating, positive 55%, neutral 29%, negative, 14%. interpret those numbers for me, will you, jean? >> clearly shows she's doing better than many first ladies, much better than what people thought. there was a time in the campaign in 2008 where lots of republicans thought michelle obama could become some sort of liability. anything but that is true. she is one of his strongest assets at the white house and in terms of his profile with voters. >> okay. jean cummings there from politico.com. thanks for joining us. >> absolutely. >> that is a wrap of this hour. i'm alex witt.
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my colleagues tamron hall and david shuster pick things up the next hour they will be talking to the man who shot this amazing video, the haiti earthquake just as the earth began to rumble. brace yourself. this is going to be good. back on msnbc news. can paperless billing get me paid faster? how can i keep my best employees? how can i bring down my insurance costs? that's why we're building a community called openforum.com where owners can swap ideas and ask questions. will tweeting get me more customers? how can i get paid faster? i was about to ask you the same thing. join the conversation at openforum.com.
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don't worry. i'm here. want guaranteed income for life? axa equitable is redefining what you expect from annuities. ooh, peanuts. good afternoon, everybody. good afternoon, tamron. i'm david shuster live in washington. >> hey there, david. i'm tamron hall, live in new york. >> tamron in the big picture, what a difference a year makes. on the anniversary of president obama's inauguration republicans are celebrating and democrats are in panic mode after republican scott brown pulled off a stunning win in massachusetts special election for ted kennedy's senate seat. >> i'm a scott brown republican. maybe a new breed of republican coming to washington. >> we'll continue to leave a seat at the table for republican colleagues. whether it's 40 or 49 members,
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we should all be in this chamber. >> i like the president. this is not about him. this is about policy. >> missing from the reaction on camera, president obama. the white house made it clear health care reform cannot be dropped but there's a growing sense of anxiety in the democratic caucus about how to move forward. the president today has said nothing. pat buchanan is msnbc analyst who run for president twice, adviser to president nixon and lawrence, i'll start off with you in studio here. i think we do have comments from the president saying he wants them to move forward with this. i just want to make it clear, we're trying to verify we did have something in the last hour from the president. nevertheless, he's not been on camera? >> no, this is a tough day. what's he going to come on camera and say. he went up to massachusetts. he had to do it. it was the only chance they had of winning. there was plenty of good analysis that indicates he probably did help close the
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number for martha coakley. she may have lost by double what she lost by if the president hadn't gone up there. it's hard to tell. look, this is a tough day for the white house. they would love a change of news immediately if they could get onto something else. >> that's not happening. >> you're not going to let it happen, tamron. >> not just me, the american people. i went online to see what topics they were more interested in, scott brown, democratic side health care, the number one thing, is obama health care dead. how do you process that's what the american people are looking for? >> that's what they ought to be looking for. if the house cannot pass the senate bill i think it collapses and falls apart in that you're not going to get 60 votes from the senate. you would have to do something for reconciliation unless you took it apart and put it together piece by piece, which

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